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Re: poisonous weeds

Jim, that brought back memories. About the time I had just begun the
Master Gardener course I was clearing a planting area in front of our
neighborhood association's signs so the signs could be replaced. No one
had cared for the plantings for several years. I recognized and potted
up some items like the emerald euonymous, but one plant I didn't know.
It looked really healthy so I potted the small shrub up in a 3 gallon
pot and took it to class. I asked the Hort Ed what it was. With a broad
grin, and barely contained laughter, he told me I had potted up deadly
nightshade....but that it was the absolute nicest specimen of it he'd
ever seen.

Now I recognize the plant (how could I forget?) and pull it whenever it
shows up, which is infrequently. But I've never had a skin reaction to


-- "James R. Fisher" <garrideb@well.com> wrote:
 From another list:
A word of warning regarding Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana.  It's common here
too.  Few people realize that the juice from broken stem/leaves on the
Pokeweed can deliver a skin dermatitis reaction much more virulent than poison 
I learned the hard way.


Another common weed can also cause terrible dermatitis, is well known as a
poisonous plant (to ingest), but I had little idea just how potent a dermatitis
reaction the plant was capable of (from the sap of the plant).  The plant is
Solanum dulcamara, with the best known common name of bitterweet nightshade,
but also called woody nightshade, climbing nightshade,  and deadly nighshade
(the "deadly nightshade" in Europe is a different plant). This plant is an Asian
invader that is very common throughout much of the USA.


I was clearing an overgrown area, where there was indeed some poison ivy.
Having received small outbreaks of poison ivy for half a century, I know how
poison ivy affects me, and invariably, even while being careful not to touch it,
I get a few patches of dermitis... typically small hard blistering bumps that
are very itchy.  But I wasn't paying attention to the large amount of Pokeweed
and Bitterweet Nightshade in the area, even knowing their latin names and
knowing they're poisonous to ingest. I didn't give the dermatitis view much
consideration, aside from the poison ivy.  I was wearing gloves.  I ended up with a
horrific skin reaction over a large area of one arm, blisters several 3-6 cm
across, about 1 - 1.5 cm tall, filled with liquid.  It looked like a 3rd
degree burn, and required 2-1/2 weeks of constant triple-layers of gauze bandaging
from wrist to elbow, changed and treated 5-6 times a day.  Now I have infinite
respect for these two common weeds... but wish I knew which of the two was
truely responsible, or perhaps it was an aggregate effect from both.

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States
antennaria@aol.com "New England" USDA Zone 5
Jim Fisher
Vienna, Virginia USA
38.9 N 77.2 W
USDA Zone 7
Max. 95 F [36 C], Min. 10 F [-12 C]

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